SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (STACKER) — How do you find a good city to raise a family? The most ideal spots provide safe neighborhoods, quality education, recreation opportunities, and affordability. Weighing all those factors and more and finding the right locale among nearly 20,000 incorporated cities, towns, and villages across America can be daunting, so Stacker collected 2023 data from the national review and ranking site Niche to compile a list of the top 100 cities to raise a family. To be included, each city had to have at least 100,000 residents.

The best cities to raise a family span the entire country, and vary in size from just over 100,000 residents to more than 1,000,000. Whether you are looking for a quiet town to settle down or plenty of big-city amenities for yourself and your children, there is an option for you.

While California has five cities in the top 20, and Texas has four, an Illinois city 33 miles west of Chicago claims the top spot. Six of the 10 cities in the country with populations over 1,000,000 made the list, showing that big cities are a great place to raise a family, offering a wealth of historic sites, museums, top schools, and parks to entertain parents and children alike.

High walkability scores, rapidly improving school systems, and falling crime rates place vibrant cities like Dallas and New York among the nation’s best for families. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia are represented, while Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Alaska are absent.

If you’re hunting for the perfect place to lay down roots, be sure to keep reading to discover the 100 most highly rated cities for raising a family.An aerial view of San Jose.

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#100. San Jose, California

– Population: 1,013,337

The Bay Area California city of San Jose is one of the most diverse communities in the nation. Considered the hub of the region’s Silicon Valley, San Jose also has one of the highest costs of living in the country, with median household incomes in the triple digits and significantly higher than the national average. The median home value is upwards of $986,700, also way over the national average. With more than 31,000 students, San Jose’s school district is home to many highly regarded elementary and high schools.Historic buildings in downtown Provo.


#99. Provo, Utah

– Population: 113,538

Located just under an hour south of Salt Lake City, Provo offers families a suburban lifestyle with an affordable cost of living. The city’s median rent is lower than the national average at $973, while median home values are a bit higher than the national average at around $330,000. It is also a safe town, with violent and property crime rates well below the national average. Provo is home to 68 highly-rated public schools and 17 private schools.An aerial view of a stadium in Peoria.

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#98. Peoria, Arizona

– Population: 187,733
– Closest major city: Phoenix

A suburb of Phoenix, Peoria boasts a median income of about $10,000 higher than the national average, though the cost of living is also about 10% above the national average. Still, with more than 224 public schools with high ratings, the town is ranked as one of the places with the best public schools in Arizona. Families won’t run out of fun activities either, thanks to Peoria’s many parks, including Lake Pleasant Regional Park.A historic white building in Tallahassee.

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#97. Tallahassee, Florida

– Population: 195,057

The capital city of Florida, Tallahassee, provides a host of opportunities for families to stay in shape, with over 100 miles of in-town biking trails, aerial obstacle courses, and canoe and paddle facilities among them. Leon High School, one of the most diverse in the city, is rated #2 of the best high schools in the Tallahassee area. The city is only safer than 6% of U.S. cities, however, with a crime rate of 37 per 1,000 residents, according to data reported from NeighborhoodScout.An aerial view of Meridian.


#96. Meridian, Idaho

– Population: 115,227
– Closest major city: Boise

Niche ranked Meridian the top suburb to live in across the state, and it’s clear why. This fast-growing town offers high-quality public and private schools and plenty of family-focused recreational activities, including the Children’s Museum of Idaho and Roaring Springs Water Park. Professionals will be glad to hear that the median household income in Meridian is about $15,000 higher than the national average, and jobs are abundant both locally—thanks to companies like Scentsy Fragrance and Jacksons Food Stores—and in nearby Boise.An aerial view of Murrieta.


#95. Murrieta, California

– Population: 111,096
– Closest major city: Riverside

The Southern California town of Murrieta is situated between Los Angeles and San Diego, but with a population of just over 100,000, it offers a much more relaxed pace than nearby metros. Like much of Southern California, median home prices are high—more than $200,000 above the national average. Still, the median household income is also high, at almost $100,000. The town ranks 158th among cities in California with the best public schools and 101st among the most diverse suburbs in the state.Homes on a lake.

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#94. Elk Grove, California

– Population: 175,510
– Closest major city: Sacramento

Elk Grove was ranked the 11th best suburb to live in near the capital city of Sacramento, and it’s also just a two-hour drive from the bustling San Francisco metro. The town is ranked highly for diversity both in California (17th) and across the country (208th). Its crime rate is not the best on our list, but NeighborhoodScout still reports it is safer than 24% of U.S. neighborhoods, with an annual crime rate of 19 per 1,000 residents.Downtown Orlando.

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#93. Orlando, Florida

– Population: 302,968

A child’s dream come true, the Orlando area is home to legendary theme parks and museums including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Discovery Cove, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Walt Disney World Resort. The city’s school district features the Orlando Science Middle/High Charter School, ranked at the top of Orlando’s best public high schools and the #1 overall charter school in the state.Downtown Rio Rancho in a desert landscape with mountains in the background.


#92. Rio Rancho, New Mexico

– Population: 102,403
– Closest major city: Albuquerque

Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is a suburb just northeast of Albuquerque. The city is home to 83 public and 57 private schools, including Mountain View Middle School, which is ranked the 4th best public middle school in New Mexico. Rio Rancho is also relatively affordable, offering a cost of living 3% lower than the national average and a median household income just above the average.Downtown Boise.

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#91. Boise, Idaho

– Population: 231,537

Follow the Boise River Greenbelt through the heart of the capital city of Idaho and neighboring communities for 25 miles of forested walking and bicycling trails, with access to downtown, Boise State University, and major parks. Boise Senior High School is ranked the second-best public high school in the state. The city’s crime rate comes in below the national average for most violent and property crimes.A splash pad and ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta.

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#90. Atlanta, Georgia

– Population: 492,204

Georgia’s capital and its most populated city has more than 3,000 acres of parkland accompanied by up to 33 recreational centers filled with family-friendly opportunities. Niche rates Atlanta’s top three school districts, Buford City, Forsyth County, and Decatur City, with an overall grade of A+. USA Today reports how “history and art take center stage” in Atlanta’s museums, while great fun and education are found at the Georgia Aquarium, the largest marine exhibit in the U.S. Add in the affordable cost of living, and Atlanta gets more appealing.An aerial view of Coral Springs.


#89. Coral Springs, Florida

– Population: 133,693
– Closest major city: Fort Lauderdale

Situated near the Florida Everglades and the Atlantic Coast, Coral Springs offers plenty to do for nature lovers and city folk alike. Explore the Tall Cypress Natural Area or drive over to nearby Fort Lauderdale or Miami for urban amenities. Coral Springs is also one of the most diverse places to live in Florida.An aerial view of Salt Lake City and the Capitol.

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#88. Salt Lake City, Utah

– Population: 199,153

Utah’s capital city has a wealth of outdoor activities sure to please any family, which earns it the rank of #25 of 228 best cities for outdoor activities in America. The city’s median home price is $314,500, with median rents at $985.The Capitol in Washington, D.C.

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#87. Washington D.C.

– Population: 683,154

Washington D.C. offers an abundance of schools and libraries. Some of its most affordable neighborhoods for young families are Takoma Park, Catholic University Brookland, and Glover Park. Child-care costs are high, but the district’s local government has offered free preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds since 2009. D.C. passed an extensive set of measures, the Birth-to-Three For All D.C Act, in 2018, that included investments in infant and toddler health care services, subsidies for early childhood learning, higher job standards, and better pay for early childhood educators.A conservatory of plants.

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#86. St. Paul, Minnesota

– Population: 309,751

The capital of Minnesota, St. Paul is home to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, sure to please all in the family, as well as Fort Snelling State Park, with hiking and biking trails. The city’s residents are about evenly split between homeowners and renters, with median home values and rent hovering around the national average. Among its top schools are foreign-language immersion facilities for Spanish, German, and Mandarin.A historic theater building in Fargo.

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#85. Fargo, North Dakota

– Population: 124,979

The Red River Zoo, Plains Art Museum, and Fargo Air Museum are among the family-friendly activities to enjoy in Fargo. Fargo Davies High School makes the grade as the best public high school in North Dakota, with a 94% average graduation rate.A historic stone building.

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#84. Denton, Texas

– Population: 139,704

Denton is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The Argyle Independent School District ranks #20 in the state. The district’s top school, Argyle High, boasts a 99% average graduation rate. Nearby Lake Lewisville is a recreational haven, featuring parks, marinas, camping, and fishing.A bus driving down the street in Arvada.


#83. Arvada, Colorado

– Population: 122,903
– Closest major city: Denver

Arvada offers some of the highest-rated public schools in the state, including D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School and DSST: Byers High School. NeighborhoodScout ranks the town safer than 6% of U.S. neighborhoods, with an average crime rate of 37 per 1,000 residents. The median home value is high, at around $450,000 compared to a national average of around $245,000.An aerial view of Fullerton at sunset.


#82. Fullerton, California

– Population: 142,964
– Closest major city: Los Angeles

Situated in the popular Orange County about 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles, Fullerton has a lot to offer families. For one, it’s less than five miles from Disneyland. The cost of living is high, about 37% above the national average, but the median household income is also higher than average. The town also boasts highly-rated schools, including Troy High School, which is ranked second in the state.A bridge and waterfall in downtown Aurora.


#81. Aurora, Illinois

– Population: 183,447
– Closest major city: Chicago

If you’re looking for an affordable suburb to put down roots, look no further than Aurora. Despite its location less than an hour outside of Chicago, Aurora boasts a cost of living 3% lower than the national average. The median home value in the town hovers around $209,000, compared to a national average of $245,000. The city is also rated the 9th most diverse place to live in Illinois.Homes by a waterway in Davie.


#80. Davie, Florida

– Population: 104,782
– Closest major city: Fort Lauderdale

The second Fort Lauderdale suburb on our list, Davie is packed with family-friendly activities for all interests—from parks to botanical gardens and museums. The area offers plenty of highly-rated schools as well, including The College Academy at Broward College, which ranks second in the state and allows students to complete an associate’s degree in their final two years of high school.Students at a university in Gainesville.

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#79. Gainesville, Florida

– Population: 138,741

Nature and museums lead the family-friendly opportunities to share in the Gainesville area, with the Butterfly Rainforest, part of the Florida Museum of Natural History, at the top of the list. Eastside High School is listed as #92 out of 702 public high schools in the state.Bluebonnets blooming in a field near a lake.

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#78. Lewisville, Texas

– Population: 110,077
– Closest major city: Dallas

Situated in the bustling Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, Lewisville is ranked the 10th most diverse suburb in the state. NeighborhoodScout reports the city is safer than 20% of U.S. neighborhoods with an average crime rate of 21 per 1,000 residents. The town’s close proximity to Lake Lewisville means there are plenty of great ways for families to spend their free time, as well.Hot air balloons over water.

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#77. Temecula, California

– Population: 109,376

The Southern California city of Temecula ranks as #23 in cities with the best public schools in America. Great Oak High School is the second best in Riverside County with a 97% average graduation rate. Kids get a hands-on feel for science while they play at the Temecula Children’s Museum Pennypickle’s Workshop. The city’s crime rate comes in well below the national average in all categories.People being pulled in a horse-drawn cart in Charleston.

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#76. Charleston, South Carolina

– Population: 147,928

The port city of Charleston is alive with its historical roots. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Families with students in or about to enter high school might consider Academic Magnet High School, the second-best public high school in the state.An aerial view of Huntington Beach.


#75. Huntington Beach, California

– Population: 198,735
– Closest major city: Los Angeles

Huntington Beach is certainly an expensive place to live, with a cost of living more than 40% higher than the national average and a median home price of over $845,000. Still, its beachside location and plentiful activities make it a popular place for families. The median household income is also significantly higher than the national average, at around $105,000.The Hazen Brigade Monument at the Stones River National Battlefield.

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#74. Murfreesboro, Tennessee

– Population: 148,970

Ripe with American Civil War history, Murfreesboro is home to the Stones River National Battlefield and Oaklands Mansion, where families can explore the area’s evolution over the centuries. The community ranks as the #6 most diverse suburb in the state.An aerial view of Quincy on the water.

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#73. Quincy, Massachusetts

– Population: 100,544
– Closest major city: Boston

Quincy offers up a little slice of history: It’s known as the “City of Presidents” because it’s the birthplace of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the second and sixth U.S. presidents. Ranked as the 10th most diverse suburb in Massachusetts, Quincy’s proximity to Boston means there is no shortage of activities and city amenities for local families. NeighborhoodScout also reports the town is safer than 34% of U.S. neighborhoods, with an average crime rate of 15 per 1,000 residents.A crowded street of people on bicycles.

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#72. Pasadena, California

– Population: 138,771

Home to the Rose Bowl and the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena offers a wide range of educational, artistic, historical, and garden experiences for families to share. It’s ranked #9 among the healthiest cities in the United States and places to live in America. But its amenities come with a hefty price tag: The city’s median home value pushes $863,000, and the median rent is $1,904.An aerial view of Pittsburgh.

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#71. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

– Population: 303,207

Sports enthusiast families might consider Pittsburgh an ideal home base, with the Penguins and Steelers both winning numerous championships. The city sports a median home value of $147,600, putting it at #12 of 228 best cities to buy a house in America and a median rent of $1,043. The Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy ranks #9 among magnet schools in the state but is only the second-best high school in the city.Boats on the water.

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#70. Stamford, Connecticut

– Population: 134,820

Stamford is centrally located to more than 332 miles of beach access on the Long Island Sound in Connecticut. The city of about 128,000 features the Stamford Museum and Nature Center with family-oriented classes, exhibits, and special events. The crime rate in Stamford is generally much lower than the U.S. average. But with median rent prices of $1,981 and rising home values at $550,600, housing costs can take a big chunk out of the family budget in Stamford.A green arch leading into Roseville.

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#69. Roseville, California

– Population: 145,687

Roseville is part of the metropolitan area around the state capital of Sacramento. Just over two-thirds of its residents own their homes, with the median price in Roseville at $502,800, while rent approaches $1,800. Granite Bay High School leads Placer County as its best public high school, with an average graduation rate of 96%.An aerial view of a park and homes in the background.

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#68. Fort Collins, Colorado

– Population: 166,788

Northern Colorado’s Fort Collins offers a historic downtown, and its namesake Museum of Discovery, with interactive science, history, and nature exhibits. Its schools rank #37 of 228 in America, with Fossil Ridge High School ranked #32 out of 457 in the state. Although nearly half of Fort Collins’ residents own their homes, median home values here are $180,000 above the national average.People walking around a park with waterfalls in the center.

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#67. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

– Population: 189,258

Sioux Falls features Falls Park, through which the Big Sioux River runs, and family fun and education at the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum. Sioux Falls ranked #36 for cities with the lowest cost of living in the nation.An aerial view of Clovis.

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#66. Clovis, California

– Population: 118,488
– Closest major city: Fresno

A suburb of Fresno, Clovis is one of the most affordable California cities on our list, boasting a cost of living just below the national average. Many of its schools offer smaller class sizes for a more intimate feel, including University High School, which is ranked the 27th best public high school in the state.People on a pedestrian bridge.

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#65. Minneapolis, Minnesota

– Population: 425,091

Minneapolis, twin city to the Minnesota capital of St. Paul, is bisected by the Mississippi River. Minneapolis is home to many parks and lakes, the Walker Art Center, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Its crime rate is well above the national average in many categories, but its vibrant communities and good job prospects earn it the #8 spot out of 228 cities for young professionals.An aerial view of downtown Winston-Salem.

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#64. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

– Population: 247,917

Home to Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem has public schools that earn high grades at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Foodies in the family will find the historic Moravian Culinary Trail, and the whole gang can explore the community’s historic heirloom gardens and farmers’ markets. Fans and athletes of virtually any sport can get their fill at the city’s many sports venues.The Charlotte downtown skyline.

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#63. Charlotte, North Carolina

– Population: 864,871

Charlotte provides families with diverse interactive opportunities like hands-on science displays at Discovery Place, the Levine Museum of the New South, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Its many top schools include Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, listed as the state’s second-best public elementary school. The city of more than 800,000 gets an A+ for its ethnic and economic diversity.A fountain with statues of horses in the water.

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#62. Scottsdale, Arizona

– Population: 238,685

East of Arizona’s capital, Scottsdale is a desert city home to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, with 180 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, among its recreational offerings. With median home values far exceeding the national average, 67% of the city’s 250,000 residents own their homes. It offers 9 of the top 20 high schools in the state, including BASIS Scottsdale, the best public high school in the state, and the top charter high school in the nation.An aerial view of dense homes.

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#61. Irving, Texas

– Population: 254,184

Situated just northwest of Dallas, Irving offers extensive aquatic programs in its parks and recreation. The city ranks #27 of the 228 most diverse cities in America, and its crime rate comes in under the national average in most categories. Lake Grapevine offers a host of outdoor recreation opportunities for the whole family.People sitting in the grass by the water with bicycles parked on the side.

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#60. San Diego, California

– Population: 1,385,398

A full dose of culture, history, and museums, as well as the San Diego Zoo, await families at San Diego’s Balboa Park. The Pacific Coast city ranks highly for diversity (#34 of 228) and public schools (#20 of 228). But its overall cost of living gets a D, with median home values above $660,000, and rent at nearly $1,900.Two people watch a bridge going up for boats.

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#59. Chesapeake, Virginia

– Population: 247,172
– Closest major city: Norfolk

Just a few minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake offers families plenty of great outdoor activities, from the Norfolk Botanical Garden to the Chesapeake Arboretum. The city’s cost of living is about 4% higher than the national average, but the median household income is also around $15,000 higher than the national average. The median home value is just above the national average as well, at about $292,000.Red brick buildings on a small street in Broken Arrow.


#58. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

– Population: 112,751
– Closest major city: Tulsa

Rated the seventh best place to live in Oklahoma, Broken Arrow is located just southeast of Tulsa in the northeastern part of the state. The city rates well for the cost of living, thanks to a median home value of about $180,000 compared to the national average of around $245,000. Median rent is also lower than the national average, at $1,102.A small brick train station in Norman.


#57. Norman, Oklahoma

– Population: 125,745
– Closest major city: Oklahoma City

Norman is a suburb of the state’s capital, Oklahoma City, and the third largest city in the state. There are plenty of local, family-friendly activities to explore, including Lake Thunderbird State Park and the Sam Noble Museum at the University of Oklahoma. Many of the city’s 70 local public schools and 51 private schools rank among the top in the state.A street lined with palm trees and mountains in the background.

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#56. Burbank, California

– Population: 107,364

The Los Angeles County city of Burbank, near Hollywood, is home to famed movie and TV studios like Warner Bros. It also holds the distinction of rankings as the #14 healthiest place to live in America and #13 for best public schools in America. Living here can dent the family wallet, however, with median home values at $837,900 and rent at nearly $1,900.The Rochester skyline.

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#55. Rochester, Minnesota

– Population: 119,732

Prospective homeowners thinking of moving their families to Rochester will be pleased to hear it ranks as the fourth-best city to buy a house in America. With a median home value of $236,400, two-thirds of the city’s residents own their homes. Century Senior High School is a top school in the area, and #31 for best college prep public high schools in the state, out of 383. The Mayo Clinic is one of the area’s biggest employers.The state capitol in Lincoln.

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#54. Lincoln, Nebraska

– Population: 289,136

The capital city of Nebraska, Lincoln, is ranked #14 of the best places to buy a house in America. Families can share a day with their youngsters at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, or visit Pioneers Park Nature Center, which offers hiking trails, a wildlife sanctuary, and environmental education center. Lincoln East High School comes in as the #3 high school in Nebraska, with a graduation rate of 91%.A tourist attraction of US Army rockets in Huntsville.

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#53. Huntsville, Alabama

– Population: 210,081

Huntsville is home to the interactive U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Huntsville Botanical Garden with its many family-oriented exhibits and events. Its New Century Technology High School was ranked #4 for best magnet high schools in Alabama. The city’s crime rate is significantly higher than the national average, but Huntsville still ranks as the fifth-best city in the country for buying a house.A statue of a man on a horse with the Boston skyline in the background.

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#52. Boston, Massachusetts

– Population: 672,814

Boston is known for its colleges and universities, but it has an abundance of early childhood programs and preschools as well. For education and entertainment, there’s the Boston Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the New England Aquarium, the Franklin Park Zoo, and the Boston Ballet Children’s Program.An aerial view of Austin on the water.

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#51. Austin, Texas

– Population: 944,658

The state capital of Texas, Austin, is home to the University of Texas and is famous for its live music scene. It also earns high marks for its public school system, with its Liberal Arts and Science Academy, graded as the best college prep public high school in Texas. It boasts a 99% average graduation rate. Austin also gets top ranking for its racial diversity.The Golden Gate Bridge with downtown San Francisco in the background.

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#50. San Francisco, California

– Population: 865,933

San Francisco ranks #4 for healthiest cities in America. With iconic attractions, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz Island, the city has something for virtually anyone in any family. But there’s one major drawback: It’s the third-most expensive city in the nation, after New York City and Honolulu.An aerial view of New York City on the water.

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#49. New York City, New York

– Population: 8,736,047

With an overall crime rate right at the national average in 2020, New York City also takes the #1 score for walkability in the nation, sure to please families that eschew driving. Stuyvesant High School in New York City ranks as the #14 best public high school in the nation. Despite the Big Apple’s high cost-of-living expenses, the city ranks in the top 10 nationally for diversity, outdoor activities, and best places for young professionals.People on a roller coaster ride.

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#48. Tampa, Florida

– Population: 380,476

Nestled on the west coast of Florida near the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is awash with activities for the entire family, including Busch Gardens with its rides and 12,000 animals. St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, listed as #16 among the best high schools in the state, leads the top schools in the area. Median home values here come in at about $277,700, with median rents around $1,250.A colorful art display at a park.

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#47. Omaha, Nebraska

– Population: 488,059

On the Missouri River near the Iowa border, Omaha offers unique family experiences at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and Heartland of America Park. This city ranks #24 among the best cities to buy a house in America, with median home values set at $177,700. Omaha boasts the state’s top two high schools, top five elementary schools, and three of the top five middle schools in Nebraska.A beautiful horse paddock and barn.

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#46. Lexington, Kentucky

– Population: 321,354

Lexington is ranked #13 among the best cities to buy a house in America. The city sees median home values and rent below the national average, with crime rates slightly above the national average in several categories. Dubbed “The Horse Capital of the World,” this is the place for folks enamored with thoroughbred racing and other equine sports.A shopping mall in Brandon.

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#45. Brandon, Florida

– Population: 115,330
– Closest major city: Tampa

Brandon is a suburb of Tampa with a prime beachside location just minutes from Tampa Bay and the Gulf Coast. Its cost of living is right at the national average, with median home values just under the national average and median rents just over. Brandon is also ranked as one of the most diverse cities to live in Florida, especially among suburbs. It’s a very safe place to live as well, with NeighborhoodScout reporting an average crime rate of 12 per 1,000 residents—safer than 42% of U.S. neighborhoods.An aerial view of homes in Carrollton.

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#44. Carrollton, Texas

– Population: 131,388
– Closest major city: Dallas

Yet another suburb of Dallas, Carrollton has a lot to offer families, especially when it comes to education. Local schools including the School for the Talented and Gifted and the School of Science and Engineering rank among the top in the state. The top-rated private schools are in the area as well, including St. Mark’s School of Texas. With a cost of living 16% below the national average, it’s a relatively affordable place to live as well.An aerial view of Concord.

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#43. Concord, North Carolina

– Population: 102,566

Located northwest of Charlotte, Concord combines a median home value just above the national average and rents below the national average with a higher-than-average median household income of around $79,000. NeighborhoodScout ranks the town safer than 42% of U.S. neighborhoods, with an average crime rate of less than 12 per 1,000 residents.An aerial view of homes in sprawling green hills.

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#42. Thousand Oaks, California

– Population: 127,274

The Southern California city of Thousand Oaks is listed as the nation’s #7 city with the best public schools. Although a 2018 mass shooting knocked Thousand Oaks from the #3 spot on the safest cities in America list, the city sports a crime rate well below the national average, but its housing costs are well above it: Home values here come in at $794,200, and the average median rent is more than $2,300. Families can hike, ride horseback, camp, and more at Wildwood Park, and marvel at the beauty of the Gardens of the World, with its waterfalls and koi pond.A historic Capitol building with columns in the front lawn.

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#41. Columbia, Missouri

– Population: 124,342

Median home values in Missouri’s fourth largest city are below the national average, while renting is considerably lower than average, prompting 51% to rent. Rock Bridge Senior High School, which serves nearly 2,000 students, is the #8 public high school in the state. Columbia’s crime rate is lower than the national average in most categories.A large rectangular building with columns in the front and a green lawn.

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#40. College Station, Texas

– Population: 116,276

Texas A&M University’s main campus is set in College Station, where more than 80% of residents have at least some college experience. The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center offers educational and research opportunities. The city ranks #14 for best public schools in America.A glass building performing arts center at night.

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#39. Sandy Springs, Georgia

– Population: 106,605

Home to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Sandy Springs is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. The city of 107,000 comes in at #13 of the 228 healthiest places to live in America. Real estate can be pricey here, with median home values topping $490,000 and rents exceeding $1,400. Sandy Springs earns top marks for diversity, and more than 80% of its residents have at least some college experience.A boardwalk on the water with a statue of Neptune on the side.

Sherry V Smith // Shutterstock

#38. Virginia Beach, Virginia

– Population: 457,658

The Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach, home of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center featuring coastal habitats from around the world. The city’s public schools are ranked #32 in the nation, and crime here is well below the national average.A historic tourist attraction building on the water.

Bob Pool // Shutterstock

#37. Alexandria, Virginia

– Population: 158,185

American history buffs probably couldn’t ask for more than what historic Alexandria offers. Just eight miles south of the nation’s capital, the city is home to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the restored 1700s gathering place for the nation’s founding fathers including Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and others. Nearby Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is the 7th-best high school in the U.S. More than 80% of residents have some level of college education, and its ethnic and economic diversity earns it an A grade. Its crime rate comes in below the national average, with violent crimes about one-third of the average.A statue of rocks entering Round Rock.

Roschetzky Photography // Shutterstock

#36. Round Rock, Texas

– Population: 117,735

Crime in Round Rock is well below the national average, helping make it the #26 best city in America to buy a house. Families can enjoy Old Settlers Park, with recreational activities and six sports complexes, and Play for All Park, which is designed to accommodate special-needs kids. The community is served by Round Rock High School, which boasts a 98% graduation rate for its 3,700 students. About 56% of the city’s residents own their homes, which have a median value of $281,500.Buildings and palm trees in downtown Chandler.


#35. Chandler, Arizona

– Population: 272,439
– Closest major city: Phoenix

Niche ranked Chandler the #1 suburb to live in the Phoenix area and the third across the state. The city shines in education, ranking second in the state for public schools. The cost of living in Chandler is a bit higher than the national average (7.5%), but the median household income also beats the national average, at over $91,000.An aerial view of Torrance on the ocean.

trekandshoot // Shutterstock

#34. Torrance, California

– Population: 147,156

Multiple high schools serving Torrance get top grades, pushing the city to #12 in the national rankings for best public schools. High Tech Los Angeles ranks as the #9 best charter high school in the state. Families can take in the beauty of the South Coast Botanic Garden and practice their favorite sports at Charles H. Wilson Park. Torrance also ranks #7 for the healthiest places to live in America.A statue of George Washington at the capitol in Raleigh.

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#33. Raleigh, North Carolina

– Population: 462,219

Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, is part of the “Research Triangle,” along with Chapel Hill and Durham, named for the number of technology and scholarly institutions in the area. The family-friendly North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences features living collections among its extensive exhibits. This city of about 464,000 ranks #17 on the list of best cities to buy a home. It’s also home to several of the top public high schools in the state, with Raleigh Charter High School at the top.Downtown Gilbert lit up at night.


#32. Gilbert, Arizona

– Population: 262,249
– Closest major city: Phoenix

Another Phoenix suburb to make the list, Gilbert is located southeast of the state’s capital. The area offers plenty of ways for families to spend their free time, from a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden to browsing the local farmer’s market. NeighborhoodScout reports the city is safer than 42% of U.S. neighborhoods, with low rates for both violent and property crime.A mission with pink flowers on the front lawn in Fremont.


#31. Fremont, California

– Population: 231,502
– Closest major city: San Jose

Situated in the bustling Silicon Valley, Fremont is nestled on the San Francisco Bay and just minutes from tech hubs San Jose and Palo Alto. This prime location makes it one of the most expensive cities on our list, with median home values over $1 million and a cost of living 77% higher than the national average. The median household income beats out the national average as well though, at over $150,000.People walking into Lego Land.

Lester Balajadia // Shutterstock

#30. Carlsbad, California

– Population: 114,858

The coastal community of Carlsbad, near San Diego, features several family-friendly attractions, including Legoland and its Sea Life Aquarium and South Carlsbad State Beach. The Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is home to free-roaming peacocks. The schools serving the community earned it the #5 spot on the list of best public schools in America, and its Canyon Crest Academy is considered the best public high school in California. The city’s crime rate comes in well below the national average.The capitol and downtown Madison on the water.

Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

#29. Madison, Wisconsin

– Population: 265,447

In the capital city of Wisconsin, Madison’s Middleton High School is rated the second-best public high school in the state and also second-best for science, technology, engineering, and math. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum offers walking paths and jogging tracks for all, with numerous educational opportunities in its garden settings. Families will also enjoy Henry Vilas Zoo and the Wisconsin Historical Museum.People walking in a park on the water with downtown Seattle in the background.

Anthony Ricci // Shutterstock

#28. Seattle, Washington

– Population: 726,054

With its iconic Space Needle and Puget Sound setting of water, forests, and thousands of acres of parks, Seattle ranks #1 nationally for best outdoor activities and #5 among the country’s healthiest cities. Families can find virtually any activity along the Sound, from kayaking to birding, bicycling to diving, whale watching to touring, and more. Seattle is home to several of the top 20 high schools in the state. Washington’s largest city is home to Amazon.An aerial view of homes in San Mateo.


#27. San Mateo, California

– Population: 105,087
– Closest major city: San Francisco

San Mateo is another San Francisco suburb on our list, offering families easy access to both the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Coast. The cost of living is high, with median home values over $1.2 million and median rent over $2,700. Local schools rank highly for the state, especially private schools including The Nueva School, which is ranked the best high school for STEM in the state.Homes and boats on the water.

BFS Man from Webster, TX, USA // Wikimedia Commons

#26. League City, Texas

– Population: 111,847
– Closest major city: Houston

Situated halfway between Houston and Galveston Island, League City truly offers the best of both worlds when it comes to access to city amenities and the slower pace of beach life. Pop over to Houston for museums or a night at the theater or drive down to Galveston to walk the boardwalk and check out the Gulf of Mexico. Many local schools are highly rated, including Clear Horizons Early College High School, where students can earn an associate’s degree while finishing high school.A mission building with palm trees and landscaping.

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz // Shutterstock

#25. Santa Clara, California

– Population: 127,922

Near San Jose in California’s Silicon Valley, Santa Clara is home to many technology companies including Intel, home of the Intel Museum, a wealth of information about decades of innovation. Family fun abounds at California’s Great America Park, as well. Nearby Cupertino High School is ranked the #18 best college prep high school in California out of 1,403. Be prepared to shell out big money to live here: The median home value currently sits at a whopping $1.2 million, and the median rent is more than $2,600.Brick row homes.

Trong Nguyen // Shutterstock

#24. Richardson, Texas

– Population: 115,904

Residents of Richardson enjoy a blend of racial diversity. The city is a suburb of Dallas, with median household incomes exceeding $87,000. It ranks #19 among the best cities to buy a house and #18 among cities with the country’s best schools. For a family day of outdoor activities, Prairie Creek Park offers creeks, waterfalls, trails, and picnic sites.Homes by a lake.

Trong Nguyen // Shutterstock

#23. Pearland, Texas

– Population: 122,609
– Closest major city: Houston

A suburb of Houston, Pearland ranks #15 among the most diverse suburbs in Texas and 44th in the state overall. The median household income in Pearland exceeds $107,000, while the median home value is only about $30,000 above the national average. Local schools rank among the top in the state.Shops on a main street in McKinney.

Wirestock Creators // Shutterstock

#22. McKinney, Texas

– Population: 189,394
– Closest major city: Dallas

Just northeast of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, McKinney is part of a bustling suburban area with plenty of great parks, museums, and other activities for families. With an average of less than 11 crimes per 1,000 residents, NeighborhoodScout ranks the town safer than 46% of U.S. neighborhoods.Condos and shops.

Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

#21. Sunnyvale, California

– Population: 155,550

A major Silicon Valley community in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sunnyvale comes in at #14 for best cities to live, #15 for public schools, and #21 in the nation for healthiest cities. But Sunnyvale’s cost of living is much higher than the national average, with median home costs at a prohibitive $1.5 million and rent at $2,800, which is more than $1,500 higher than the national average. Baylands Park, on San Francisco Bay, features biking, hiking, and nature trails, with access to the San Francisco Bay Trail, connecting 500 miles of shoreline trails.Young people going under a green arch.

David A. Litman // Shutterstock

#20. Berkeley, California

– Population: 119,607

Berkeley is home to the University of California, Berkeley campus. Homes here come dear, with median values just above $1.1 million and the median rent at $1,800. Visit the 34-acre UC Botanical Garden, one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. Median household incomes here top $97,000, with 90% of residents having some level of college and 40% of them holding a master’s degree or higher. Niche ranks Berkeley as both the healthiest city in the entire U.S. and the healthiest place to live in America, period.A small historic downtown street.


#19. Lee’s Summit, Missouri

– Population: 100,772
– Closest major city: Kansas City

Those ready to settle into a family home should check out Lee’s Summit ranked the 26th best suburb to buy a house in the state. With a prime location just outside Kansas City, the median home value and median rent in Lee’s Summit hover right around the national average, while the median household income is significantly higher than average at above $98,000. Local schools such as Delta Woods Middle School also rank among the top in the state.People on a carriage ride.

PhotoTrippingAmerica // Shutterstock

#18. Olathe, Kansas

– Population: 140,339

Another Kansas City suburb, Olathe is located in the southwest of the metro area. Olathe tops many lists for education, and is ranked the 8th best place for public schools in Kansas. That doesn’t mean the town is all work and no play; you can check out local parks and nature preserves or spend the day at the Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture.Homes in Centennial.


#17. Centennial, Colorado

– Population: 107,972
– Closest major city: Denver

Located south of Denver, Centennial boasts the beautiful scenery the state is known for. But the cost of living is high in response, at 24% higher than the national average. The median home value in Centennial is nearly $485,000, though the median household income is higher than average as well, at $114,375.Chilren riding scooters around a park and visitor center.

Eric Urquhart // Shutterstock

#16. Allen, Texas

– Population: 102,778
– Closest major city: Dallas

Though Allen has been in the news lately for a mass shooting, the Dallas suburb is generally known as being a safe place to live. In fact, NeighborhoodScout reported it as safer than 48% of U.S. neighborhoods, with low rates for violent and property crime. The city also ranks well for education, with some of the top public schools in Texas.An aerial view of homes in Edison.

FotosForTheFuture // Shutterstock

#15. Edison Township, New Jersey

– Population: 106,909
– Closest major city: New York

Edison Township is less than an hour from New York City but offers a much more affordable cost of living. Still, the town has a cost of living nearly 28% higher than the national average, with a median home value of over $400,000. The area also hosts many of the best public schools in the state, including Union County Magnet High School, which has a 95% graduation rate.A gazebo.

ulkare // Shutterstock

#14. Plano, Texas

– Population: 282,181

Less than a half-hour drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, Plano is rated as the 8th-best city in the nation to buy a house. Ranking at #8 nationally among cities with the best public schools in the U.S., Frisco’s Liberty High School ranks #19 out of Texas’ 1,729 public high schools, boasting a 99% graduation rate. About 58% of residents here own their homes, which have a median value of $358,100. Families will enjoy the Heritage Farmstead Museum, a living history site.Rows of palm trees in a park.

LunaseeStudios // Shutterstock

#13. Irvine, California

– Population: 297,868

The Orange County city of Irvine is the third-healthiest place to live in the country and boasts the nation’s fourth-best public schools. Such lofty rankings have a lofty price, however, with median home values here topping $900,000. Among its best schools, the Orange County School of the Arts is the fifth-best charter high school in the state. Families can enjoy a day of fun at Orange County Great Park, or visit Pretend City Children’s Museum.A water fountain in front of a historic stone building.

City of Overland Park // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Overland Park, Kansas

– Population: 195,249

A suburb of Kansas City, Overland Park is the second-best city to buy a house in America, with 63% of residents owning their homes. Blue Valley North High School is rated the best public high school in the state, with the community featuring the top four high schools in Kansas. Families can check out Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, with its trails, 13 gardens, wildlife, and educational activities.An aerial view of homes with snow-capped mountains in the background.


#11. Highlands Ranch, Colorado

– Population: 103,238
– Closest major city: Denver

Highlands Ranch is ranked among the best Colorado suburbs to live in, buy a home, and for public schools. Outdoor enthusiasts especially will find plenty of things to do, thanks to the town’s close proximity to Chatfield State Park, Roxborough State Park, and more. Like much of the Denver metro area, the cost of living is high, at 30% more than the national average.A family biking through a park in Sugar Land.


#10. Sugar Land, Texas

– Population: 110,272

As its name suggests, Sugar Land can be a sweet place to raise a family. It’s ranked the 11th best city to live in the state, and NeighborhoodScout reports it is safer than 34% of U.S. neighborhoods. The median home value in Sugar Land is about $344,000, while the median household income is over $123,000.A theater and shops on a main street in Ann Arbor.

Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

#9. Ann Arbor, Michigan

– Population: 122,731

Ranked the #8 best city to live in America by Niche’s calculations, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and its Museum of Natural History. Families visiting the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum can immerse themselves in discovery with a scientific bent. Ann Arbor also takes the #2 spot for cities with the best public schools in the nation. Median home values are just over $366,000, with a median household income registering at $73,276An aerial view of Bellevue on the water.

Russ Heinl // Shutterstock

#8. Bellevue, Washington

– Population: 149,365

Across Lake Washington from Seattle, Bellevue is the third-best city for public schools in the country, led by Interlake Senior High School, ranked #3 best public high school in the state. It’s one of nine schools serving the Bellevue area to receive an A+ grade. The lake is a popular fishing area for enthusiasts of all levels. Airplane and spacecraft buffs will enjoy a family visit to the Museum of Flight nearby.An aerial view of a bridge going into Cambridge.

Joseph Sohm // Shutterstock

#7. Cambridge, Massachusetts

– Population: 116,892

Home to some of the best schools in the world, Cambridge ranks as the #7 best city for outdoor activities in the country and wins the #1 spot for young professionals. The Charles River offers bike paths, numerous parks, and recreational opportunities. About 88% of the city’s residents have some college experience, with 50% holding a master’s degree or higher. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School ranks #8 of the most diverse public high schools in the state.An aerial view of homes.

Andrea Izzotti // Shutterstock

#6. Columbia, Maryland

– Population: 105,086

Columbia is centrally located, less than 40 miles from Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington D.C. Columbia contains three of the top 10 middle schools in the state. About 65% of the residents own their homes thanks to a median household income nearly twice the national average.People at a park by the water.


#5. Frisco, Texas

– Population: 193,140

Frisco is one of the larger Dallas suburbs on our list, with a population nearing 200,000. The city hosts Toyota Stadium, home to FC Dallas, and the National Videogame Museum—giving you a local option for activities of all interests. Many of its public schools, including Reedy High School and Spradley Elementary School rank among the top in the state.Shops and bicycles on the street in Cary.

KAD Photo // Shutterstock

#4. Cary, North Carolina

– Population: 171,603
– Closest major city: Raleigh

Cary, a suburb of Raleigh, is ranked the top city to live in the state, as well as the 42nd best suburb to live in across the country. The cost of living is a bit higher than the national average, but the median household income is also above $113,000. Four of the top 10 public high schools in North Carolina service the Cary area.A silver dome and buildings in downtown Arlington.

Jon Bilous // Shutterstock

#3. Arlington, Virginia

– Population: 235,764

Located just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., Arlington was rated the #2 city to live in America by Niche’s metrics, thanks to high marks for schools and overall health. The city is host to several historic sites, including Arlington National Cemetery, which is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and President John F. Kennedy’s grave. Median home values are more than three times the national average, prompting 58% of the city’s 232,965 residents to rent. Median rent is also above the national average, coming in at $2,094.An aerial view of homes on a golf course near water.

thierry dehove // Shutterstock

#2. The Woodlands, Texas

– Population: 115,716

Besides taking second place in this compilation, The Woodlands ranks #1 of the best cities to buy a house and #6 of the cities with the best public schools in America. The George Mitchell Preserve is a large, forested nature preserve with hiking, bike trails, and a lake, and The Woodlands Children’s Museum features interactive exhibits and play areas designed for the little ones. Considered one of the top master-planned communities in the nation, the median home value here is $390,800.Shops on a river.

James Andrews1 // Shutterstock

#1. Naperville, Illinois

– Population: 149,013

Topping the list of best cities to raise a family in America, Naperville is also at the top of the list of cities with the best public schools in America. Crime here is far below the national average in every measured category. Neuqua Valley High School ranks #11 of 698 public high schools in the state, with an average graduation rate of 98%. This western suburb of Chicago has a median household income of more than $135,000. Nearby Naper Settlement offers families a host of programs, from camps to geocaching, kids’ programs, and more. Naperville Riverwalk, a recreation area along the DuPage River, features fountains, covered bridges, and an amphitheater.

Data reporting by Elena Cox. Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Robert Wickwire. Photo selection by Lacy Kerrick.